The Botswana Chess Federation (BCF) has roped in Russian Grandmaster Iger Vladimirovich Glek to help the senior National Chess team in their final preparations for the All Africa Games.
The chess grandmaster, who arrived in the country last Sunday, has been training with the team for a week and is expected to go back home today (Sunday).
According to the BCF Secretary General Kelapile Kelatlhilwe, the Russian Grandmaster, who is also an accredited FIDE trainer, came into the country with the help of the Botswana National Sports Council (BNSC).
“The BNSC usually gives sporting codes affiliated to them financial support to prepare for the games of this magnitude. As a sporting code that is due to take part in the All Africa Games, we therefore in our financial request included a coach and we were granted the funds,” Kelatlhilwe said in an interview.
He says with the money acquired, they then searched for a trainer to come train the team in its final phase of preparations, and they settled for Glek. “We met him (Glek) at the Chess Olympiads and have had relations with him for a while, so it was easy for us to contact him and request his assistance,” Kelatlhilwe added.
While admitting that they are happy with Glek, the BCF Secretary General said their wish is that they could have had him for a much longer period. Meanwhile, the senior national chess team will leave for the All Africa Games tomorrow (Monday).
The team, which will be led by BCF President Tshepo Sitale and Kelatlhilwe, is expected to be comprised of ten players, five men and five ladies. According to Kelatlhilwe, the BCF will be sending a full strength women’s team, which will comprise of, among others, Women International Master (WIM) Boikhutso Mudongo, Women FIDE Master (WFM) Tshepiso Lopang, Women Candidate Master (WCM) Keitumetse Mokgacha, Thapelo Francis and Ontiretse Sabure while the men’s team will be made of Barileng Gaealafshwe, Candidate Master (CM) Providence Oatlotse, CM Thabo Gumpo and CM Moakofi Notha.
The participation of Ignatius Njobvu is still to be certified. The BCF Secretary General says the latter’s problem is that his travel documents are not yet finalized.
Should he not be available, Kelatlhilwe says they will then go to the games with a four-man team.
Commenting on preparations, the BCF Secretary General says the Federation is happy with the team’s preparations saying he hopes the team will surpass its medal target of one medal set by the BNSC.
“In our preparations, we have played games against Zambia and also played at the Commonwealth Chess games where we managed to earn a medal. Last week, we played against Angola in Pretoria in an international friendly in the final preparations for the All Africa games,” Kelatlhilwe added.
He says while the women’s team, which was full strength, edged out Angola, the Botswana men’s team, who were playing an under strength team, lost their game.
Despite this, Kelatlhilwe says the BCF is hopeful that the team will get at least three medals, two more than they got at the last All Africa Games.